It hasn’t taken long for the riots of last week to become nothing more than background static in the news, has it? Three days of trouble and then a night of rain was enough to put off most of the rioters. Anyone in teaching could have told you that kids’ attention spans are too short to put in a sustained effort these days.
All right, I’m being flippant – I don’t want to see that kind of violence on our streets again but we can’t change that it’s occurred and the worst thing that can happen now is… nothing.
There was a brief flurry of articles in some of the more intelligent press (I confess, I wasn’t brave enough to nose through the right wing gutter press letters pages…) about the importance of social and economic justice and, to my great delight, some surprisingly balanced and compassionate writing, particularly this piece by a political blogger.
Already, though, any debate of depth and substance is being washed away in the tide of drivel that passes for news and comment. David Cameron’s broken record about the broken society (written about with some panache by Roo on his blog, so I won’t repeat my similar feelings on the issue) merged with the usual Jeremy Kyle nutters banging on about stiffer sentences and it’s political groundhog day.
Then I stumbled across an article in the NY times – I forget why I was there – and came across two fascinating bits of writing. Firstly, on the topic of economic justice, Warren Buffet arguing for higher taxes – almost like finding a turkey voting for Chirstmas – and then this piece by Neal Gabler about the effect of information overload on proper thinking. I think he’s right. We live in such a deluge of information that we fail to stop and think about the things that are really important.
So what do we do with this little blip on the radar? How do we make sure that the damage suffered and the misery endured in those riots lead to something positive? Now that we can communicate and exchange ideas with everyone on the planet (results may vary: if your ideas are not being freely exchanged, check that you are not in a communist dictatorship or the offices of the Daily Mail) how do we screen out the crap? Is the answer in education? The media? A small group of thoughtful individuals changing the world? Or shall I start pouring petrol into my recycling?